Neil (Ben Affleck) is an American traveling in Europe who meets and falls in love with Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a Ukrainian divorcée who is raising her 10-year-old daughter Tatiana in Paris. The lovers travel to Mont St. Michel, the island abbey off the coast of Normandy, basking in the wonder of their newfound romance. Neil makes a commitment to Marina, inviting her to relocate to his native Oklahoma with Tatiana. He takes a job as an environmental inspector and Marina settles into her new life in America with passion and vigor. After a holding pattern, their relationship cools. Marina finds solace in the company of another exile, the Catholic priest Father Quintana (Javier Bardem), who is undergoing a crisis of faith. Work pressures and increasing doubt pull Neil further apart from Marina, who returns to France with Tatiana when her visa expires. Neil reconnects with Jane (Rachel McAdams), an old flame. They fall in love until Neil learns that Marina has fallen on hard times. ...Written by
Father Quintana's prayer, which goes like this, "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me", is taken from a prayer by Saint Patrick, called "Lorica of Saint Patrick", or "Saint Patrick's Breastplate". See more »
When Jane and Neil get out of their car in the midst of the bison, cameras reflected in the car windows and doors in various shots. See more »
Malick is one of my favorite directors ever. He's made three masterpieces, one excellent film, and one merely solid one. The Tree of Life is his finest achievement, one of my five favorite films ever. Now here comes To The Wonder and it's like Tree of Life's very similar, but much more emotionally-undeveloped younger cousin that wants to be as mature and as serious as it's older relative. That's the problem, but it's also part of its appeal. I did not have high expectations for this, but I also didn't really think it would hit greatness. I was sort of right. By this point it's safe to say that you're either fond of Malick's general style or not. Obviously I am and so there's nothing here that's challenging for me as a viewer because I know what to expect. But even with his former weakest, The New World, there was still something unique to each of his five films. This is To The Wonder's biggest problem. The cinematography is beautiful and would blow your mind away if this was your first Malick film, but as it is, it's kinda predictable. The story at the core is also never fully brought to life in the way the story in his last one was, although Kurylenko and McAdams both bring some truly ethereal presence.
It sounds like I didn't even like it. I did, but I also think it started off pretty great and kinda lost itself and got weaker as it went on. And while there's still a lot to admire, I'm not surprised by the criticisms and it's finally the film where the term "Malick cliché" can be applied to.
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